National Conference 2012

September 14-15 / Atlanta, GA

Hosted by:
Cross Pointe Church

Conference for Pastors

October 4-5 / Louisville, KY

Hosted by: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary & Hope for Orphans


Our 2012 national conference includes 60 plus breakout session topics taught by respected leaders from orphan prevention, adoption, global orphan and foster care organizations and ministries.

Friday’s Breakouts

Breakout Session One:

A Blue Print For Launching Orphan Ministry in the Local Church (Paul Pennington and Jason Weber, Hope for Orphans) – Navigating the waters of starting an orphans ministry in your local church can seem daunting. For the lay leader there are questions. How do I approach leadership? Do I have to do this by myself? Where should we focus? Come learn eight vital steps to launching an orphans ministry in your church and walk away with practical tools and insights you can begin using right away. This is a session geared to both empowering and equipping lay leaders in your church called to orphan ministry.

Adoption Tax Credit (Becky Wilmoth, Bills Tax Service pf Centralia, IL)

BRUSH-to-BERRIES: Creating Sustainable Business to Help Orphans (Andy Lehman, Lifesong for Orphans) – Hear examples of how your church’s orphan ministry can help create agricultural business, to ultimately help orphans. Learn how to create jobs and self-worth for orphans caregivers, future employment for orphans as they get older, sustainable business to help fund on-going orphan care, etc, and how to build a team of advocates who will lend skills & expertise. You will learn about past experiences of success & failure, and consider the kind of leadership, ownership, management & profit structure necessary to ensure primary goal of serving orphans, etc. You can take these concepts and build upon them in your current orphan care initiatives.

Domestic Adoption as Gospel-Driven Ministry (Stephen Story, Covenant Care Services) – Why adopt children? Is it simply to grow our families? Is it to meet our own desires for children? Is it to minister to a little one? A gospel driven adoption opens up endless opportunities to live out the good news of Jesus to birth family, agencies, and your current family. Come hear about the importance of being motivated by the cross as you pursue domestic adoption, whether you are adopting domestically or serving pregnant women considering adoption.

Getting to Attachment: Knowing How Your Own Attachment Style Can Affect Your Child’s Ability to Bond (Laura Godwin, Nightlight) - Children from difficult circumstances often have attachment issues but can become “earned secure.”  To heal, these children must have adoptive parents who are securely attached. Learn your own attach style and ways you can become more securely attached and, in turn, help your child to heal.

God’s Faithful Covenant Love that Empowers Our Faithful Love (David McNeely, Perimeter Church)

Hang On ~ It’s Going to Be a Bumpy Ride: One family’s reflection on the joys & struggles of international, older child adoption (Dr. Karen Hutcheson, clinical psychologist) – Dr. Hutcheson shares the joys and struggles of her family’s journey to adopt two older children from Ethiopia. Come hear some of the very “interesting” comments you may receive during the adoption journey, and learn ways to respond and answer the many questions you’ll likely encounter. Karen will discuss ways to respond with grace and love when close friends, family members, or even your church are not supportive or “disagree” with your adoption. Learn how church leadership and members can specifically rally behind and come along side every adoptive family in their church to be the support God has instructed us to be.

How Legislative Offices Can Work with the Foster Care and Adoption Community (Deb Blickenstaff, LMSW, Constituent Services Director for U.S. Senator Jim DeMint) – Deb will discuss coordination of services among constituents, federal agencies, and adoption agencies. In her position overseeing the constituent services program, she has been a long-time adoption advocate, helping families to navigate federal requirements in the adoption process. Over the years, Deb has planned several educational meetings to bring federal agency staff together with adoption providers. In the fall of 2011, Deb, along with Laura Beauvais-Godwin, held the Finding Families Adoption and Foster Care Conference on behalf of Senator DeMint’s office and the South Carolina Christian Alliance for Orphans. This conference brought together several hundred individuals, including families and providers, for a day full of information and inspiration.

How to Be a Terrible Foster Parent (Dennae Pierre, Educational Coordinator, Together for Adoption) – Christians can make foster care a terrible experience for the children in care, the systems involved, and their own families. Dennae will highlight potential pitfalls that many foster parents find themselves in. It is easy to approach foster-care selfishly instead of using it as a tool to wonderfully speak and display the gospel to all who are involved. We can start with good intentions, but quickly become self-focused. Only a proper perspective of the gospel will help us be foster parents that selflessly spread the good news of Christ and joyfully endure the trials that come with the fostering journey.

Indigenous Orphan Care Movements (David Hennessey, Director for Global Movements at Christian Alliance for Orphans, and Jedd Medefind) – Catch windows into ways God is growing a heart for orphans in the church in countries around the globe, from Zambia to Ukraine to the Philippines. And learn how American Christians can support these efforts.

International Adoption (Herbie Newall, Lifeline)

Mobilizing the Next Generation to Care for Orphans (Jonathan Merritt, author of A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars and Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan to Our Planet) - This breakout will flesh out the stats on this generation’s heart for  issues of social justice, critique this generation for often being more cause-centered then Christ-centered, and then cast a vision for mobilizing them rightly.

Moments for Moms (Shelly Roberts, ABBA Fund) – Sharing from her own experiences, Shelly Roberts will walk you through lessons she has learned as a Mom/Wife on their family’s adoption journey. Shelly will share about how she learned to parent in new ways, keep your marriage strong, and deal with changed friendships (often your old friends – non-adoptive – no longer “get” you).

Pain in Adoption:  Hope, Healing, a Future for you and your family (Elizabeth Styffe, Saddleback Church)

Presenting the Choice of Adoption (Jill Thomley, Executive Director of Covenant Care Adoptions) – If you are a pastor, a lay-leader, or involved in any type of setting where you encounter women facing an unplanned pregnancy, it is important to know how to present the idea of adoption. Women every day receive an abortion because they see it as their only choice. Come hear about the popular misconceptions portrayed by the media and the myths of adoption addressed. Learn important language that needs to be used to communicate the power of adoption and how gospel centered adoptions can be a wonderful and beautiful way to redeem a seemingly hopeless situation.

Safe Families for Children (Traci Weldie and Sheila White of Bethany Christian Services) - Safe Families for Children is one of the fastest growing ministry opportunities in the country. This breakout session will give you the details of what is involved in starting Safe Families in your church, the role of the agency, and why this ministry is so important. Safe Families for Children is a transformational alternative to foster care that makes the homes of local Christians and their church community the center of care.

The Grief and Loss of Fostering (Rhonda Littleton, Simpsonville First Baptist)

Breakout Session Two:

10 Ways to Tell Your Story Using Social Media (and Raise Money) (Jason Jeong, founder of Creative Hope)- You have to realize that in your adoption journey, you are a part of a story that God in unfolding through you. That is a story that needs to be told! Learn about 10 ideas on how to tell your story and how telling your story can help you raise money for adoption! Receive practical ideas on using social media and the internet to share your story and raise money.

Adoption 101 (Laura Godwin, Nightlight) -  Explore how your experiences, including infertility, can influence the type of adoption that may be best for you, your family, and new child. Laura will present the basics of each type of adoption including embryo, domestic infant, foster care, and international.

Adopting Transracially and the Theology of Adoption (Vermon Pierre, Lead Pastor, Roosevelt Community Church) – There are two ways we tend approach trans-racial adoption. We can over-emphasize race and live in turmoil, afraid we aren’t doing enough to honor our child’s ethnic heritage or we can de-emphasize race and act as though it were completely unimportant now that they are in our family. The gospel shows us something different. Join Vermon as he shares his own experience growing up in various cultures and the importance of our families’ identity being rooted in Christ as both existing family and new adopted child, adapt, in order to make one new family.

Answering Abortion in Georgia (Stephen Story, Covenant Care Services) – There are over 30,000 abortions each year in Georgia, making the state 7th in the nation for abortions performed annually. How can the local church respond to this hard reality? How is adoption one of the answers? How do we apply the gospel in answering abortion in our state?

Debt Free Adoption (Julie Gumm, author of Adopt Without Debt) - Adoptive mom and author of “Adopt Without Debt: Creative Ways to Cover the Cost of Adoption,” Julie Gumm will share practical ways you can maximize your family budget, apply for grants and use creative fundraising to make your adoption dream come true.

Depraved Indifference: Confessions of an Unengaged Pastor (David Wooten, Pastor and Orphan Advocate) – A pastor of 24 years shares his journey of coming to understand James 1:27. Like so many of us in the Western Church, he found it easy to coast through his Christian life believing he was “unstained by the world”, yet he lacked faithful obedience to truly visit orphan and widows in their distress. Join Pastor David Wooten as he unpacks the meaning of this favorite verse within the orphan care world.

Fasten Your Sweet Belt: Adopting Older Children (Jodi Jackson and Agnes Tucker, Christian Alliance for Orphans) – Adopting an older child comes with its distinct challenges but equally rewarding joys. If God is calling you to older children who wait, don’t be afraid! This session will explore the unique aspects of cleaving an older child into your family. Using personal stories and testimonials from older adoptees, we will discuss what it is like for the adoptee and the parents. Come learn what a beautiful miracle can happen when you open your home and heart to an older child who has prayed for you to come.

Flyin’ Solo: Singles & Adoption (Jason Cornwell, Vice President of Together for Adoption) – As the age of marriage continues to rise in America, the numbers of singles in our churches will continue to rise. This breakout will discuss current trends and issues which singles face in regards to adoption as well as motivation to mobilize singles to be involved in orphan care.

Grassroot Movements and Orphan Care (Chris Marlow, Help One Now) - With close to 150 million orphans in the world, we believe it’s going to take a grassroots movement to truly make a difference. Chris Marlow, will share some “best practices” on how to create movements, so all can be involved in caring for orphans & making a difference.

Harnessing Orphan Sunday to Grow a Heart for Orphans in Your Church (Lavonne Dideon, National Director for Orphan Sunday 2012, and Jedd Medefind, President of Christian Alliance for Orphans) – Last year on Orphan Sunday, thousands of churches around the world celebrated God’s heart for the fatherless and how ordinary believers can mirror that heart through adoption, foster care and global initiatives. No matter how much or little time you have to invest, learn how you can make the most of Orphan Sunday 2012 (November 4) to help your church grow a culture of adoption and orphan care. Presenters will emphasize creative approaches from across the U.S., as well as resources, tools and easy-to-arrange activities for churches, student groups, families and more.

Loving Birthmothers through Adoption (Jill Thomley, Executive Director of Covenant Care Services) – The adoption process is much more than just finding a baby for a family. It is an opportunity to live out the gospel by walking alongside a hurting mother who is weighing many difficult decisions for her life and the life of her unborn baby. In this workshop for adoption ministry leaders and adoptive parents, we will talk about how we can honor birthmothers throughout the adoption process.

Loving Orphans in Every Season of Life (Lifesong for Orphans) – No matter your age, financial position, or season of life – you CAN be an orphan advocate! See very different examples of real-life every day people who do incredible things to love orphans! You will take away examples that you can begin doing immediately.

New Hope: Teaching Your Child About Their True “Inheritance” (Nemili Johnson, an adult adoptee) – Issues about being adopted often bring up a variety of emotional reactions for adopted children and their families. It is important for parents to understand and teach their children about their true inheritance in Christ. This session presents discussion on how integration of the gospel-centered concepts of “adoption” and “inheritance” can provide a new perspective and hope for adopted children and their families.

POSITIVELY Adopting Children with HIV/AIDS (Carolyn Twietmeyer, Project Hopeful)

The Forgotten Ones (Amy Moore, MLJ Adoptions) – This session will focus on the special need children around the world that are in need of Forever Families. Who are the children that are considered special need. We will look at the risk involved in the adoption of these children. There is an increasing need for families willing to step up to the plate, and be part of the solution in finding forever families for these children.

The Mega Issues: Breaking Down People’s Perception of the Orphan (World Orphans)

When does my child become a US Citizen (Trey Ingram, Smith-Moore Law, and Sam McLure, The Adoption Law Firm) - Billy Crystal said in When Harry met Sally, “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”  Many adoptive parents of international children want the rest of their life with their new child to begin as soon as possible.  For the most part, the last hurdle to the rest of their lives is US Citizenship.  The question of when an internationally adopted child becomes a citizen is both legal and practical in nature.

Saturday’s Breakouts

Breakout Session Three:

A Lifelong Conversation: Talking to Kids About Adoption (panel discussion facilitated by Jill Thomley, Covenant Care Services) – When is the right time to explain adoption to your children? How does that conversation take shape throughout their life and at different milestones? Join adoptive parents and adoptees as they share ways to help children understand their adoption story.

Black Families Adopting (panel discussion facilitated by Stephen Story, Covenant Care Services) – Imagine that you are a black woman, coming from a majority black community and you are facing a crisis pregnancy. For important reasons, raising this baby doesn’t seem to be an option, but the idea of your child being the only black baby in an adoptive family concerns you. African-american babies are the most aborted babies in America, yet a majority of the families seeking domestic adoptions are caucasian. Many African American birthmothers look through the photo book of potential adoptive families and ask the agency for an African American family, but there are few. Come hear the statistics, stories, and needs of birthmothers and learn about the need for African American adoptive parents and how to make it possible.

Caring for the (Un)Adopted Millions of Orphans Worldwide (Herbie Newall, Lifeline)

Child to Adult Perspective on being Adopted (Nemili Johnson & Shiela Wiebe, adopted as infants) – This session is presented by two Indian cousins, adopted into the same family; one of which grew up in Wyoming and the other in Kansas. They will share thoughts and experiences encountered in childhood through adulthood. Their experiences are intended to give a personalized perspective on the difficulties of growing up in rural, non-minority areas and the issues that adopted children may face in these situations. The session will also give adoptive parents a chance to ask questions concerning issues that their adopted children may face in today’s culture.

Discipling & Orphan Care in the Local Church (Rick Morton, co-author of Orphanology) – How do we seek to integrate care for the fatherless into strategy for helping people to follow Jesus through the local church? Join Discipling Pastor and co-author of the popular orphan ministry book Orphanology Rick Morton to explore this topic to discover practical ideas for you and your church.

Disrupted Adoptions: What to Do When It is Not Working Out (Laura Godwin, Nightlight) -  Laura will discuss when it may be better for a family to allow a child to be placed in another family. In addition, she will discuss what services the placing family may need for a successful transition. Traci Weldie, the mother of a child through a disrupted adoption, will share her experiences of being the “new” family.

Indigenous Foster Care and Adoption: Using the Church as the Starting Point (Johnny Carr and Tendai Masiriri, Bethany)

Innovative Adoption Funding Solutions & How Churches Can Respond (Rich Metcalfe, Lifesong for Orphans) – This work shop will equip churches and families to overcome one of the biggest barriers to adoption: money. Learn creative solutions to the funding hurdles, both big and small. Explore specific examples and “case studies” of God’s provision through churches and individuals to meet the financial needs of adoption.

Orphaned then Abandoned: Breaking the Link (World Orphans)

Parenting the Heart of Your Child (Dr. Reddit Andrews)

Pros and Cons of Short Term Missions (Chris Marlow, Help One Now)

“Redeeming Pain”: How to End the Orphan Crisis (Elizabeth Styffe, Saddleback Church)

Teaching Your Children to Suffer Well (Dennae Pierre, Together for Adoption) – In the therapeutic world we live in, we easily toss around words like grieving, suffering, and loss as though they are cancer to be dispelled from our bodies. This workshop will look at the importance of raising our children to live without fear of suffering. We will take a look at a biblical perspective of suffering and talk about practical ways to teach our children to live out their stories within the context of all that is happening throughout human redemptive history. Whether you are trying to encourage your child to have a heart for those who are in the midst of suffering or you have a child who has suffered much from their earlier losses in life, this workshop will encourage you to use the gospel at their level to help them process the pain around them.

Breakout Session Four:

A Diverse Church as the Stage of Adoption: How the Theology of Adoption Develops a Multi-Ethnic Church (Vermon Pierre, Roosevelt Community Church, Phoenix)

Adopting from Fantasy Island: Realistic Expectations for Adopting Parents (David Wooten, Pastor and Orphan Advocate) – It is easy to think of adoption as a magical Disney-like experience and have high fantasy like expectations. Adoption is a glorious calling that brings with it some hard providences. There is no adoption without loss, pain, and suffering; but there is also no pain, loss, or suffering that our Lord cannot address and heal. Wether you have adopted or are in the process of adopting, it is important to have realistic expectations so you can prepare yourself to love and serve your adoptive children well.

“Come and See” to “ Come and Die”: What Jesus Asks of Us in Orphan Care (Elizabeth Styffe, Saddleback Church)

Cultivating Indigenous Adoption (Rich Metcalfe, Lifesong for Orphans) – A unique blending of “orphan care + adoption”. A case-study and example of how to effectively create indigenous adoption (Ukrainian children being adopted by Ukrainian Christian parents, etc). What works and what doesn’t work. You will see the key ingredients/ concepts, and how your church orphan ministry / advocate team can stimulate indigenous adoption globally

Difficulties/Surprises for Adoptive Moms (Jill Thomley & adoptive moms, Executive Director of Covenant Care Services – Becoming an adoptive mom is more than getting a baby, but a time to grow deeply in your faith and love of God. Adoption is a unique journey full of challenges and wonderful surprises. Come hear about the journey of emotions that come along the way, grieving losses, and the joy that comes with the new gift of life that enters your family.

Families in Crisis: addressing the unique challenges of struggling adoptive families – Jon Bergeron, Ph.D. Director of Hope for Orphans FamilyCare and Robin Pennington Co-Founder of Hope for Orphans discuss why difficulties in adoption are the norm and how early supportive intervention by the church can make all the difference. We will also discuss what happens when families find they just can’t keep going and disruption or dissolution of the adoption becomes necessary. This session will provide an overview of the magnitude of the challenges facing a child and a family after an adoption takes place and will discuss the need for a support network around that family that is best provided by their church family. Loving the “difficult to love is our job as the body of Christ, and is often how we shine brightest. Churches need to actively move toward these families when times get tough and continue to love them even when things don’t work out.

Foster Care and Adoption (Herbie Newall, Lifeline)

Gospel Rest for Weary Moms (Dr. Donna Thoennes, Torrey Honors Institute) – If you are a mom, this session is for you. Join Donna as she takes you deeper into God’s story of adoption. This breakout will showcase the beauty and wonder of the Gospel for weary moms.

HIV & the Global Orphan Crisis (Dr. Susan Hillis, Center for Disease Control)

International Orphan Hosting: Is hosting a viable means of global orphan care? (Rick Morton, Co-Founder of Promise 139, a global orphan hosting ministry, and co-author of Orphanology) – Join Rick Morton co-founder of Promise 139, a global orphan hosting ministry, co-author of Orphanology a discussion of orphan hosting as a viable means to global orphan care. Included will be practical suggestions for beginning an international hosting effort and a frank discussion of some of the relevant critiques of hosting ministry and how to avoid some of the likely pitfalls.

Men and the Fatherless (Jason Kovacs, ABBA Fund, Together for Adoption)

Opening the Door to Adoption by Closing the Door to Abortion (Michael Spielman, Abort73) – In America today, the battle between abortion and adoption is being won by abortion – in a landslide. The National Council for Adoption (NCFA) reports in their 2007 Factbook that for every 1,000 live births, there are 5.5 adoptions and 326.5 abortions. Though the NCFA takes no official position on abortion, they state in Factbook III that the number one barrier to adoption is the “almost exclusive focus on abortion as the preferred option when an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy occurs.” Therefore, reshaping the way culture thinks about abortion may be the single most-effective way to increase the total number of adoptions. That doesn’t mean that individual adoption ministries should change their focus, but it does mean that the collective body of Christ should be in the business of boldly, creatively, and proactively exposing the darkness of abortion. As we consider the glorious, biblical, God-exalting act of adoption, we must not forget about the monster lurking in the shadows. Publicly standing against abortion will invariably step on some toes, but so long as the church fails to speak out against the atrocity of child sacrifice, the myriad blessings of widespread adoption will never see the light of day.

OVERLOOKED: Adopting children most often overlooked for adoption, Down Syndrome, Older kids and other things that scare us (Carolyn Twietmeyer, Project Hopeful)

Seeing Through Their Eyes: Adoption from the Other Perspective (David McNeely, Perimeter Church) – Follow a family’s story of adoption through the eyes of the birthmother, social workers, foster care providers, physical therapists, and many others.

Strategic Church Based Orphan Care and Adoption Ministry (Johnny Carr, Bethany)

The Silent Life of a Birthmother: The Need for Change (Brittany Hudson) – Birthmother and Founder of The Vessel – For Life, Brittany Hudson, shares her experience in the decision for Adoption, the anxiety in the plan and where she sees need for tremendous growth in raising the voice of the Birthmother and the great need for improvement in after care.

Register now!

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